BOSTON – The Bruins had a couple of needs on the opening day of the NHL Free Agent Frenzy on Friday, and it seemed as if most of the viable candidates were passing by the Black and Gold.
But Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and the Boston front office ended up filling the team’s roster needs in an interesting way, and that started off with the announcement they’d signed Jarome Iginla to a one-year deal worth $6 million. The Bruins shut down the 35-year-old Iginla and the rest of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates during the Eastern Conference Final, and neatly gained revenge on the former Calgary power forward after he infamously left Boston hanging at the April trade deadline.
Iginla finished last season with 14 goals and 33 points split between Calgary and Pittsburgh in 44 games, but is just one season removed from posting 32 goals and 67 points in the NHL.
Iginla finished with four goals and 12 points in 15 playoff games for the Penguins, but all of those offensive points arrived in the two series prior to running into the Bruins buzz-saw in the third round. It was pretty clear both Iginla and the Bruins weren’t each other’s first choice on the first day of free agency, but both sides came to an agreement that will pay the future Hall of Famer only $1.8 million in salary.
Once the Bruins had lost out on Daniel Alfredsson and Michael Ryder among others, Iginla became Plan C for a team full of players that very much harbored hard feelings over last year’s trade deadline debacle. Iginla should step right in and play right wing alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic on Boston’s top line, and could be the most fitting replacement as a 6-foot, 204-pound power forward capable of scoring and mixing it up physically.
In addition to the Iginla signing, the Bruins inked free agent goaltender Chad Johnson to a one-year, one-way contract worth $600,000 to compete as Tuukka Rask’s backup next season. Forward Bobby Robins signed a two-year, two-way contract, forward Nick Johnson signed a one-year, two-way deal and defenseman Mike Moore signed a two-way, one-year contract.
Robins’ salary is worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 at the AHL level while Nick Johnson’s contract is worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $200,000 at the AHL level. Moore’s contract is worth $550,000 at the NHL level and $150,000 at the AHL level.
In four regular season games with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2012-13, Johnson posted a 2-0-2 record with a sterling 1.21 goals against average and a .954 save percentage with one shutout. The 27-year-old netminder played six games with the New York Rangers from 2009-11, posting a 1-2-1 record, giving him a career goals against average of 1.97 and a .929 save percentage in 10 total NHL games.
It would appear that Johnson and 23-year-old Swedish netminder Niklas Svedberg will battle it out for the backup goalie position with the Bruins organization potentially angling toward giving the talented European goalie more development time at the AHL level.
Robins has skated the past two seasons (2011-13) with the Providence Bruins and appeared in 107 games, registering six goals and 17 assists for 23 points. In 2012-13, the forward racked up a career-high 316 penalty minutes, which led both the P-Bruins and the AHL.
The 6-foot-1, 183-pound Nick Johnson skated in 17 games in 2013 for the Phoenix Coyotes, recording four goals and two assists for six points with a plus-three rating. Mike Moore joins the Bruins organization after spending the previous year in the Predators system, playing in 50 games for Milwaukee Admirals. The 28-year-old notched five goals and 11 assists for 16 points with Milwaukee, while accumulating 42 penalty minutes.
Johnson, Moore and Robins are all expected to start the year with the Providence Bruins, and would only get called up to Boston if injuries begin opening up chances for younger players. Given the outrageous term and salary of some contracts handed on the first day of NHL free agency, Chiarelli did an excellent job of quietly, deliberately filling out his roster without much of a blip in the league’s salary cap expectations.